What to Expect and How to Prepare for a Deposition
Depositions can be intimidating. Here’s what to expect and how to prepare
A deposition is a formal interview, usually conducted by opposing counsel. The person being deposed (deponent) is sworn under oath to tell the truth and the entire interview is transcribed in real time by a court reporter. A deposition can also be video-recorded if the attorney desires. Depositions play an important role in nearly every civil lawsuit. It is the best opportunity both the plaintiff and defendant have to explain their side of the story and to describe their injuries. Attorneys desire deposition testimony so that we have a good understanding of the testimony to expect at trial from that particular witness.
If the individual has some connection to the case, either as a party, a fact-witness, an expert witness hired to give an opinion, a safety manager at a large corporation, or even the CEO of a company where policies and procedures are at issue in the case, that person must give deposition testimony if one of the attorneys requests it. They are typically held either at the attorney’s or the court reporter’s office. Expert witnesses can and do charge hefty sums to appear at depositions. In Arizona, most depositions are limited to four hours, excluding breaks.
Depositions can be intimidating. Attorneys tend to ask questions about family life, education, hobbies, work, etc… The questions can seem unrelated and even distracting to the case at hand. Deponents often feel like they are being interrogated. The truth is, as this is the attorney’s one opportunity to talk to the deponent, that attorney must be thorough. Prior to a defense attorney taking the deposition of one of our clients, one of our attorneys will spend a significant amount of time preparing the client. Preparation includes reviewing important documents, discussing the high and low points of the case, the unwritten rules of giving testimony, and, most importantly, how to approach each question so as to avoid answers that may unnecessarily harm the case.
The best deponents will only tell the truth and will answer the question that is asked, nothing more, nothing less. Unlike the conversations we have throughout the day, when giving deposition testimony, it is important to not offer additional information. This has a tendency to give the defense attorney additional topics to explore. It’s best to keep answers brief and to the point.
Depositions play a vital role in any civil lawsuit. In some cases there will only be one deposition taken, usually that of the plaintiff. In complex claims, 10-20+ depositions will take place. It is important to have an attorney you trust sitting next to you during the deposition. The lawyers at the Rockafellow Law Firm will ensure that you are properly prepared and ready to give your best testimony should you have to sit for a deposition.